Old Testament Story List

Land of Milk and Honey

When the Israelites came to the wilderness of Paran, they were very close to the land God had promised them. One more march would take them across the border and into the beautiful country.

And the Lord told Moses, "Send twelve men into the land of Canaan to spy out the land."

Moses chose twelve

good men and told them, "Cross over the plain and go up into the hills. See what the land is like. See what kind of people live there, whether they are weak or strong, few or many. Find out whether the land is good or bad, whether there is wood on it. Notice what kind of cities they have, whether they live in tents or strongholds. Bring back fruit from the land. The first grapes should be ripe now. Finally, go with good courage."

For forty days the spies went here and there through the Promised Land. They saw strong cities and small towns. They saw fields of grain and large vineyards of grapes. The land was beautiful and full of all kinds of food. In this land they would not become hungry for meat, fruit, or vegetables.

When the spies returned to Israel's camp, they brought samples of the fruit that grew in Canaan. Two men carried one large cluster of grapes on a pole between them. Never before had the people seen such wonderful fruit.

Then ten of the spies told about Canaan. "It is a rich land. We brought you some of the fruit that grows there. But the people live in great walled cities." And the Israelites talked to one another about the report.

Finally Caleb, another spy, quieted the people and told them, "Let us go at once and take the land, for we are well able to overcome it."

But the ten spies did not agree. They said, "We cannot go into the land, for the people are stronger than we." The people were frightened when the spies said, "The men of that land are so big they make us look like grasshoppers."

The people were so disappointed that they cried all night. When morning came, they complained against Moses and Aaron. "We wish we had stayed in Egypt! We wish we had died back in the wilderness rather than be killed by the giants of Canaan. Why has God brought us out here to die? Our wives and our children will be taken prisoners." The people even planned to choose a captain and go back go Egypt.

When Moses and Aaron heard about the plan, they fell on their faces and begged the people to obey God. How could these people doubt God's great power after he had brought them out of Egypt, led them through the Red Sea on dry land, given them water from a solid rock, rained food from heaven, and protected them from their enemies?

Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who had faith in God, tore their clothes because the people did not trust God to give them Canaan. They pleaded with the people, "The land we searched is a wonderful land. The Lord promised it to us. Do not turn back or be afraid. The Lord is with us. Let us go forward!"

The people would not listen to Caleb and Joshua. Instead they wanted to kill the two faithful spies. But as the people looked for stones to throw at Caleb and Joshua, they saw the glory of the Lord come down upon the tabernacle.

The Lord said to Moses, "How long will these people provoke me? How long will it be before they have faith in me?" The Lord was so angry with the children of Israel that He thought He could not put up with them any longer.

Moses prayed earnestly for his people. He reminded the Lord, "If our people die here in the wilderness, the Egyptians will say you were not able to take the Israelites to Canaan." And Moses pleaded, "Pardon, I beg you, the sin of this people according to your great mercy, even as you have forgiven them from the day they left Egypt until now."

For Moses' sake God forgave the Israelites, but he refused to let them change their minds and enter Canaan now. God said, "All of you who are twenty years old and older will never live in Canaan because you have complained against me." To punish them, God commanded them to turn back into the wilderness and camp until every person who had complained was dead.

After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Hebrews reached the plains of Moab. Moses was growing old and knew that he would not be with his people when they finally reached the Promised Land of Canaan. Now his work was done.

Moses called Joshua, and before all the Hebrews said to him, "Be strong and have courage. You must lead these people to the land of their fathers. The Lord will be with you. He will not forsake you, so do not fear." And he gave Joshua the book of laws to put in the ark with the stone tablets.

Then Moses went up on the mountain of Nebo - across the Jordan from Jericho - and from there the Lord showed him the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, and all the land that spread between the valley and the River Jordan which they would have to cross. And the Lord said to him, "Behold the land of Canaan. I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob that I would give that land to their children. You have seen it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over into it." Moses called the children of Israel to him and gave them his blessing.

Shortly thereafter Moses died, and was buried in the land of Moab. The children of Israel mourned for thirty days, for he had been a very great prophet, and had led the Hebrews out of their slavery in Egypt.

Joshua was a good leader, full of the spirit of wisdom, but there never again rose a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.


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